Start-up playtime pays off nicely for Perkins

January 3, 2000


This is one of an ongoing series of articles on interactive-marketing leaders.

Name, rank and serial number: William (Bill) Perkins, age 45, Boston native, earned a BA and an MBA in marketing at Boston College. Joined Benton & Bowles as assistant account executive on P&G business in 1978, sharing an office with two other assistants. Promoted to Vice President at 27 and management supervisor at 29. Following stints in senior management at J Walter Thompson, became president of Ketchum Advertising and later president and COO of Lord Dentsu Advertising. Today, he shares an office again in a Silicon Valley start-up.

Mantra: "Intelligent advertising is still something I believe in; you’ve just got to make sure it’s not an oxymoron."

Why do you like start-ups? "It’s all about risk and reward."

What’s the marketing challenge at Visto? "Someone called Visto the best-kept secret in the Valley. My mission is to make sure that we get the word out and drive awareness."

What were your first action steps? "To define an architecture to develop the brand and to build out the marketing infrastructure."

What did you say on your second day on the job? "Branding is not about t-shirts and coffee mugs. I tried to give a frame work for what was going to be required to develop a brand."

How quickly did things move? "My first board meeting was after I’d been here a couple of days. I basically laid out a template for developing the brand."

What turned you on to the Internet? "Working on the Schwab account. Schwab embraced the Internet. (It) fundamentally changed the financial-services marketplace."

How did it feel to make the leap? "I felt like there was a revolution going on. I was hearing the roar of the crowd outside of the stadium. I got tired of reading about it and hearing the distant roar. I wanted to play."

What did you do to get ready? "I bought every Internet book available at the Time-Life bookstore on 6th Avenue. My apartment looked liked a graduate student’s dorm room."

How quickly did you have to start swimming? (Visto) wanted me to start as soon as possible. I came out the next week with an overnight bag and I never went back to New York. My girlfriend ended up sending my stuff. The movers shipped out all of these over-priced neckties and suits. I really don’t need them anymore. I gave some to the movers. I gave some to my brother. I have a few hanging in the closet."

Michael Krauss is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago. He can be reached at



 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners